Inspiring story : Life of Abu Hurayrah

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Abu  Hurayrah Radhiyallahu anhu  became  a  Muslim  at  the  hands  of  at-Tufayl  ibn  Amr  the  chieftain  of  the  Daws  tribe  to which  he  belonged.  The  Daws  lived  in  the  region  of  Tihamah  which  stretches  along  the  coast  of  the  Red Sea  in  southern  Arabia.  When  atTufayl  returned  to  his  village  after  meeting  the  Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam  and  becoming  a Muslim  in  the  early  years  of  his  mission,  Abu  Hurayrah  was  one  of  the  first  to  respond  to  his  call.  He was  unlike  the  majority  of  the  Daws  who  remained  stubborn  in  their  old  beliefs  for  a  long  time.  When  at-Tufayl  visited  Makkah  again,  Abu  Hurayrah  accompanied  him.  There  he  had  the  honor  and privilege  of  meeting  the  noble  Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam who  asked  him:  “What  is  your  name?”  “Abdu  Shams –  Servant  of  a  Sun,”  he  replied.  “Instead,  let  it  be  Abdur-Rahman  –  the  Servant  of  the  Beneficent  Lord,”  said  the  Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam. “Yes,  AbdurRahman  (it  shall  be)  O  Messenger  of  God,”  he  replied.  However,  he  continued  to  be  known as  Abu  Hurayrah,  “the  kitten  man”,  literally  “the  father  of  a  kitten”  because  like  the  Prophet sallallahu alaihi wassalam, he too was  fond of  cats  and  since  his  childhood  often  had  a  cat  to  play  with.  Abu  Hurayrah radhiyallahu anhu stayed  in  Tihamah  for  several  years  and  it  was  only  at  the  beginning  of  the  seventh  year of  the  Hijrah  that  he  arrived  in  Madinah  with  others  of  his  tribe.  The  Prophet sallallahu alaihi wassalam had  gone  on  a  campaign  to Khaybar.  Being  destitute,  Abu  Hurayrah  took  up  his  place  in  the  Masjid  with  other  of  the  Ahl asSuffah.  He  was  single,  without  wife  or  child.  With  him  however  was  his  mother  who  was  still  a mushrik.  He  longed,  and  prayed,  for  her  to  become  a  Muslim  but  she  adamantly  refused.  One  day,  he invited  her  to  have  faith  in  God  alone  and  follow  His  Prophet  but  she  uttered  some  words  about  the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam which  saddened  him  greatly.  With  tears  in  his  eyes,  he  went  to  the  noble  Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam  who  said  to “What  makes  you  cry,  O  Abu  Hurayrah?”  “I  have  not  let  up  in  inviting  my  mother  to  Islam  but  she  has  always  rebuffed  me.  Today,  I  invited  her again  and  I  heard  words  from  her  which  I  do  not  like.  Do  make  supplication  to  God  Almighty  to  make the  heart  of  Abu  Hurayrah’s  mother  incline  to  Islam.”  The  Prophet  responded  to  Abu  Hurayrah’s  request  and  prayed  for  his  mother.  Abu  Hurayrah  said:  “I went  home  and  found  the  door  closed.  I  heard  the  splashing  of  water  and  when  I  tried  to  enter  my mother  said:  “Stay  where  you  are,  O  Abu  Hurayrah.”  And  after  putting  on  her  clothes,  she  said,  “Enter!” I  entered  and  she  said:  “I  testify  that  there  is  no  god  but  Allah  and  I  testify  that  Muhammad  is  His Servant  and  His  Messenger.”  “I  returned  to  the  Prophet,  peace  be  on  him,  weeping  with  joy  just  as  an  hour  before  I  had  gone  weeping from  sadness  and  said:  “I  have  good  news,  O  Messenger  of  Allah.  God  has  responded  to  your  prayer  and guided  the  mother  of  Abu  Hurayrah  to  Islam.”  Abu  Hurayrah  loved  the  Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam  a  great  deal  and  found  favor  with  him.  He  was  never  tired  of  looking  at the  Prophet  whose  face  appeared  to  him  as  having  all  the  radiance  of  the  sun  and  he  was  never  tired  of listening  to  him.  Often  he  would  praise  God  for his  good  fortune  and  say:  “Praise  be  to  God  Who  has guided  Abu  Hurayrah  to  Islam.”  Praise  be  to  God  Who  has  taught  Abu  Hurayrah  the  Quran.”  “Praise  be  to  God  who  has  bestowed  on  Abu  Hurayrah  the  companionship  of  Muhammad,  may  God bless  him  and  grant  him  peace.”  On  reaching  Madinah,  Abu  Hurayrah  set  his  heart  on  attaining knowledge.  Zayd  ibn  Thabit  the  notable  companion  of  the  Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam reported  :  “While  Abu  Hurayrah  and I  and  another  friend  of  mine  were  in  the  Masjid  praying  to  God  Almighty  and  performing  dhikr  to  Him, the  Messenger  of  God  appeared.  He  came  towards  us  and  sat  among  us.  We  became  silent  and  he  said: “Carry  on  with  what  you  were  doing.”  “So  my  friend  and  I  made  a  supplication  to  God  before  Abu  Hurayrah  did  and  the  Prophet  began  to  say Ameen  to  our  dua.  “Then  Abu  Hurayrah  made  a  supplication  saying:  “O  Lord,  I  ask  You  for  what  my  two  companions  have asked  and  I  ask  You  for  knowledge  which  will  not  be  forgotten.”  “The  Prophet,  peace  be  on  him,  said:  ‘Ameen.’  “We  then  said:  ‘And  we  ask  Allah  for  knowledge  which will  not  be  forgotten,  and  the  Prophet  replied:  ‘The  Dawsi  youth  has  asked  for  this  before  you.”  “With his  formidable  memory,  Abu  Hurayrah  set  out  to  memorize  in  the  four  years  that  he  spent  with  the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam,  the  gems  of  wisdom  that  emanated  from  his  lips.  He  realized  that  he  had  a  great  gift  and  he  set about  to  use  it  to  the  full  in  the  service  of  Islam.  He  had  free  time  at  his  disposal.  Unlike  many  of  the  Muhajirin  he  did  not  busy  himself’  in  the  marketplaces,  with  buying  and  selling.  Unlike  many  of  the  Ansar,  he  had  no  land  to  cultivate  nor  crops  to  tend. He  stayed  with  the  Prophet  in  Madinah  and  went  with  him  on  journeys  and  expeditions.  Many  companions  were  amazed  at  the  number  of  hadith  he  had  memorized  and  often  questioned  him  on when  he  had  heard  a  certain  hadith  and  under  what  circumstances.  Once  Marwan  ibn  al-Hakam  wanted  to  test  Abu  Hurayrah’s  power  of  memory.  He  sat  with  him  in  one room  and  behind  a  curtain  he  placed  a  scribe,  unknown  to  Abu  Hurayrah,  and  ordered  him  to  write  down whatever  Abu  Hurayrah  said.  A  year  later,  Marwan  called  Abu  Hurayrah  again  and  asked  him  to  recall the  same  ahadith  which  the  scribe  had  recorded.  It  was  found  that  he  had  forgotten  not  a  single  word.  Abu  Hurayrah  was  concerned  to  teach  and  transmit  the  ahadith  he  had  memorized  and  knowledge  of Islam  in  general.  It  is  reported  that  one  day  he  passed  through  the  suq  of  Madinah  and  naturally  saw people  engrossed  in  the  business  of  buying  and  selling.  “How  feeble  are  you,  O  people  of  Madinah!”  he  said.  “What  do  you  see  that  is  feeble  in  us,  Abu  Hurayrah?”  they  asked.  “The  inheritance  of  the  Messenger  of  God,  peace  be  on  him,  is  being  distributed  and  you  remain  here! Won’t  you  go  and  take  your  portion?”  “Where  is  this,  O  Abu  Hurayrah?”  they  asked.  “In  the  Masjid,”  he  replied.  Quickly  they  left.  Abu  Hurayrah  waited  until  they  returned.  When  they  saw  him,  they  said:  “O  Abu Hurayrah,  we  went  to  the  Masjid  and  entered  and  we  did  not  see  anything  being  distributed.”  “Didn’t  you  see  anyone  in  the  Masjid?”  he  asked.  “O  yes,  we  saw  some  people  performing  Salat,  some  people  reading  the  Quran  and  some  people discussing  about  what  is  halal  and  what  is  haram.”  “Woe  unto  you,”  replied  Abu  Hurayrah,”  that  is  the  inheritance  of  Muhammad,  may  God  bless  him  and grant  him  peace.”

Abu  Hurayrah  underwent  much  hardship  and  difficulties  as  a  result  of  his  dedicated  search  for knowledge.  He  was  often  hungry  and  destitute.  He  said  about  himself:  “When  I  was  afflicted  with  severe  hunger,  I  would  go  to  a  companion’  of  the  Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam  and  asked  him about  an  ayah  of  the  Quran  and  (stay  with  him)  learning  it  so  that  he  would  take  me  with  him  to  his house  and  give  food.  ”  One  day,  my  hunger  became  so  severe  that  I  placed  a  stone  on  my  stomach.  I  then  sat  down  in  the  path of  the  companions.  Abu  Bakr Radhiyallahu anhu passed  by  and  I  asked  him  about  an  ayah  of  the  Book  of  God.  I  only  asked him  so  that  he  would  invite  me  but  he  didn’t.  “Then  Umar  ibn  al-Khattab  passed  by  me  and  I  asked  him  about  an  ayah  but  he  also  did  not  invite  me. Then  the  Messenger  of  God,  peace  be  on  him,  passed  by  and  realized  that  I  was  hungry  and  said:  “Abu Hurayrah!”  “At  your  command”  I  replied  and  followed  him  until  we  entered  his  house.  He  found  a  bowl  of  milk  and asked  his  family:  “From  where  did  you  get  this?”  “Someone  sent  it  to  you”  they  replied.  He  then  said  to  me:  “O  Abu  Hurayrah,  go  to  the  Ahl  asSuffah  and  invite  them.”  Abu  Hurayrah  did  as  he was  told  and  they  all  drank  from  the  milk.

The  time  came  of  course  when  the  Muslims  were  blessed  with  great  wealth  and  material  goodness  of every  description.  Abu  Hurayrah  eventually  got  his  share  of  wealth.  He  had  a  comfortable  home,  a  wife and  child.  But  this  turn  of  fortune  did  not  change  his  personality.  Neither  did  he  forget  his  days  of destitution.  He  would say “I  grew  up  as  an  orphan  and  I  emigrated  as  a  poor  and  indigent  person.  I  used  to take  food  for  my  stomach  from  Busrah  bint  Ghazwan.  I  served  people  when  they  returned  from  journeys and  l  fed  their  camels  when  they  set  out.  Then  God  caused  me  to  marry  her  (Busrah).  So  praise  be  to  God who  has  strengthened  his  religion  and  made  Abu  Hurayrah  an  imam.”  (This  last  statement  is  a  reference to  the  time  when  he  became  governor  of  Madinah.)  Much  of  Abu  Hurayrah’s  time  would  be  spent  in  spiritual  exercises  and  devotion  to  God.  Qiyam  al-Layl (staying  up  for  the  night  in  prayer)  and  devotion  –  was  a  regular  practice  of  his  family  including  his  wife and  his  daughter.  He  would  stay  up  for  a  third  of  the  night,  his  wife  for  another  third  and  his  daughter for  a  third.  In  this  way,  in  the  house  of  Abu  Hurayrah  no  hour  of  the  night  would  pass  without  ibadah, dhikr  and  Salat.  During  the  caliphate  of  Umar radhiyallahu anhu,  Umar  appointed  him  as  governor  of  Bakrain.  Umar  was  very  scrupulous about  the  type  of  persons  whom  he  appointed  as  governors.  He  was  always  concerned  that  his  governors should  live  simply  and  frugally  and  not  acquire  much wealth  even  though  this  was  through  lawful means.  In  Bahrain,  Abu  Hurayrah  became  quite  rich.  Umar  heard  of  this  and  recalled  him  to  Madinah.  Umar thought  he  had  acquired  his  wealth  through  unlawful  means  and  questioned  him  about  where  and  how he  had  acquired  such  a  fortune.  Abu  Hurayrah  replied:  “From  breeding  horses  and  gifts  which  I received.”  “Hand  it  over  to  the  treasury  of  the  Muslims,”  ordered  Umar.  Abu  Hurayrah  did  as  he  was  told  and  raised  his  hands  to  the  heavens  and  prayed:  “O  Lord,  forgive  the Amir  al-Muminin.”  Subsequently,  Umar  asked  him  to  become  governor  once  again  but  he  declined. Umar  asked  him  why  he  refused  and  he  said:  “So  that  my  honor  would  not  be  besmirched,  my  wealth  taken  and  my  back  beaten.”  And  he  added:  “And  I  fear  to  judge  without  knowledge  and  speak  without  wisdom.”

Throughout  his  life  Abu  Hurayrah  remained  kind  and  courteous  to  his  mother.  Whenever  he  wanted  to leave  home,  he  would  stand  at  the  door  of  her  room  and  say:  As-salaamu  alaykum,  yaa  ummataah,  wa rahrnatullahi  wa  barakatuhu,  peace  be  on  you,  mother,  and  the  mercy  and  blessings  of  God.”  She  would reply:  “Wa  alayka-s  salaam,  yaa  bunayya,  wa  rahmatullahi  wa  barakatuhu  –  And  on  you  be  peace,  my son,  and  the  mercy  and  blessings  of  God.”  Often,  he  would  also  say:  “May  God  have  mercy  on  you  as you  cared  for  me  when  I  was  small,”  and  she  would  reply:  “May  God  have  mercy  on  you  as  you delivered  me  from  error  when  I  was  old.”  Abu  Hurayrah  always  encouraged  other  people  to  be  kind  and good  to  their  parents.  One  day  he  saw  two  men  walking  together,  one  older  than  the  other.  He  asked  the  younger  one:  “What  is this  man  to  you?”  “My  father,”  the  person  replied.  “Don’t  call  him  by  his  name.  Don’t  walk  in  front  of  him  and  don’t  sit  before  him,”  advised  Abu Hurayrah.  Muslims  owe  a  debt  of  gratitude  to  Abu  Hurayrah  for  helping  to  preserve  and  transmit  the  valuable legacy  of  the  Prophet,  may Allah   bless  him  and  grant  him  peace.  He  died  in  the  year  59  AH  when  he  was seventy-eight  years  old.